Wonderful Wednesday – Prickly Lettuce

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Another weed I have been going by on my walks is the prickly lettuce. Thanks to Barbara from this blog, now I know what this plant is. Apparently, we could even eat it and use it for medicinal purposes, but I will not try that any time soon. I am not that brave.

It’s just good to know names of plants I go by though. I took the kids on a short nature walk to show them this plant just past our neighbor’s house. They drew it and filled out the rest of their notebook page.

Boy and girl sketching a prickly lettuce

My children sketching a prickly lettuce on our street

We split open the stem to see the milk inside, but it had dried up. I guess we got to it too late in the season. However, it was not too late to observe the seeds and the dandelion-like white puffed up flower.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Jewelweed

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I told you I invested in the Ultimate Naturalist Membership Level at this blog about nature studies. I am going through this year trying it out, seeing how it all fits in with our goals. I know I want my kids to learn as much as possible from nature: rocks, plants, animals, insects – they are all important.

We received so many ebooks and notebooking pages, it is quite possible we will spend years going through these materials. But, for now, it is one weekly lesson at a time.

Boy and girl studying jewelweed

Watching a youtube video about jewelweed, just before working on their notebooking page.

Last week, we looked at jewelweed. The week before that, it was catfish. While we did not get to go fishing for a catfish, or observe one in a river, we watched the suggested nature videos from youtube. It is a bit disappointing when you cannot study your subject up close and personal.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Box Turtles

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We have been doing nature walks here and there, but I recently felt impressed to take it more seriously. Childhood obesity rates and nature deficit disorder motivate me to a degree, but the most important reason is that I want my children to learn from the book of nature. Nature is like a book in which we can “read” about our Creator. Then, of course, there is the issue of health and exercise and spending time outdoors and bonding with natural things.

Boy and girl taking a nature walk

Ready for a nature walk

As I was wondering how to proceed in a more systematic fashion, I received an email from Handbook of Nature Study, a blog I subscribe to and use off and on. I remembered how they have this great membership site now and they offer so much for so little. Plus, they sent a coupon for the summer (the offer ended a few days ago, I think, but I am sure they will offer more coupons as the seasons change, so stay tuned).

Daisies

Wild daisies near our home

I invested in the Ultimate Naturalist Library because I will do these activities if I pay for them. It is human nature. We don’t always appreciate free things. But if we pay for a book, we are probably going to read it. In this case, we are talking about a lot of nature walks and challenges in order to discover our backyard and the different species of flora and fauna around us. It will also motivate us to get outside.

Black-winged dragonfly

Mystery insect (dragonfly?)

Every season, there are excuses for staying indoors. Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Powder Days

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My son and I are taking ski lessons this year. Ober Gatlinburg offers a special program to homeschoolers in January and February. The age minimum is seven.

My son and I during our first ski lesson

My son and I during our first ski lesson

Oh, the lessons we learned as we went to our first lessons last Sunday! In no particular order, we learned how to:

  • pick up skis, poles, and helmets
  • rent a locker for our own boots
  • return said rentals
  • “park” said rentals so we could go have lunch
  • fall the right way
  • get up the right way
  • get into skis the right way
  • turn left and right
  • stop on a bunny hill
  • come to a stop on an intermediate hill
  • get back up a hill when there is no chair lift
  • persevere through the fear and discouragement
  • stop laughing at people who fall
  • help those who ask for help
  • make a phone call without cell signal

I can’t say enough about this first powder day. The fears we faced and overcame probably rank highest on my list of accomplishments so far this year. Many thanks to my son who was my  teacher in the subject of Perseverance. At seven, he knows how to persevere. He kept falling and could not even get back up. He got so tangled in his skis and poles, the teacher had to walk over to help him many times. And he got up. Again, and again, and again.  Continue reading »

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McClung Museum Stroller Tours

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A couple of months ago, I discovered that the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture offers several free tours for families with children. Stroller tours are such events. As the name suggests, it is intended for adults who care for small children, ages 0-4. Since my youngest is still four, I decided to take advantage of this window of opportunity and try out a Stroller Tour.

Boy and girl in front of the McClung Museum

The kids in front of the McClung Museum

In short, we loved it. We are going back until she turns five next year. Then, we’ll have to make a decision: beg to be admitted for more as an exception to the age rule, or beg for something similar to be offered for school-age children. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Hopefully.

Birds Bugs Blooms

The October Stroller Tour was called Birds, Bugs and Blooms – Natural History Illustration from the 1500s-1800s. The exhibit itself will stay up through January, so you have a few more months to check it out. As a publishing person, I was fascinated with the history of books dealing with natural illustrations. My kids loved the pictures and the museum itself.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Summer Cattail Study

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A few weeks ago, we headed back to our cattail patch for a summer nature study. By “our” I mean a cattail patch about five minutes from our house, where we did our spring cattail nature study.

I printed out the toppers from Handbook of Nature Study – a blog we follow loosely for our nature observations.

Summer Cattail Notebooking Pages

I glued the toppers to white paper and divided it into four parts, so they could draw four objects.

 

While there, I asked the kids to walk around and get as close to the cattails as possible.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Ad-Hoc Science

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My plan was to spend at least two hours outside today. We are playing catch-up with time outside.

It has been raining lately and I have been busy with different projects, so I did not make outdoorsy time a priority. My children play so well indoors, away from screens, and I did not want to deal with bugs and/or DEET and sunscreen (there, I said it!) – it was easy to forget how important it is for them to be outside.

Well, we ended up spending five hours. We left after two hours because I had a planning meeting with other Sevier County Homeschooling Group moms, then they had swims lessons. On the way back from swim lessons, we stopped at the park again, for almost three hours.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Veggie Garden Update

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I have a small garden where I play “Farmer.” It’s only 4’x8′ and I don’t expect to feed my family from it. But if we can get some veggies every year while the children experience the cycle of sowing, weeding, watering and harvesting, I am happy.

This year, we already learned some lessons from it. Now, I’m back with an update.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Mosquitoes

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The Handbook of Nature Study blog challenged us to study mosquitoes. I hesitated because I really dislike mosquitoes. But how long can I keep avoiding Ms. Barbara’s challenges?

We live in a heavily wooded neighborhood and, as such, mosquitoes abound. One morning I got bitten 10 times on my legs while watering my small garden. Not fun.

Another day I wore long pants and long sleeves for protection, in 88F weather, and I still got bitten, through clothing.

Meanwhile, I am trying to rise to the challenge of spending at least two hours outside with the kids, every day. I have been spraying our clothes with repellents of the “deep woods” variety and mosquitoes still bite us.  Continue reading »

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Wonderful Wednesday – Funny Trees

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Yesterday was a turning point for me in my homeschooling career. A medium size one.

I have been simplifying our routines and tweaking our daily schedule and transitions ever since we started. Yesterday, I continued in the same direction by deciding we will not be doing the Junior Ranger Program this year at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Also, I decided to cut out the Summer Reading Program at the Sevierville Library. We will still do the SRP at the Gatlinburg Library, but only two seminars out of four. (For the life of me, I can’t remember why I thought doing two Summer Reading Programs would be good.)

After we spent the morning at home, I took the kids to the Gatlinburg Trail in the National Park. We experienced 90 blissful minutes wading in the river, chasing butterflies, listening to the river, and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. That’s what summer should feel like.

In that particular spot, I even have cell coverage. So if I needed help or wanted to quickly check emails, I could. We will definitely play there again.

I took pictures of some funny trees. I have passed by these trees so, so many times.

Tree with a double trunk in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

This tree makes me think of siblings separated after an argument

But it was only yesterday that I actually saw their funny shape. It’s only after we open our eyes wide, i.e. to the things that matter, that we notice certain details around us.

Elephant-looking tree in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Doesn’t this tree look like an elephant?

My kids chased this one butterfly that kept coming back to play with them. They called it Mashi (think Japanese spelling if you don’t know how to pronounce it) and thought it was a girl because of its color – lavender. When a second identical butterfly flew by and allowed them to chase it, they decided it was Mashi’s twin sister and called it Mangsten.

This morning, as we came out of the house, a lavender butterfly fluttered in the yard. They started yelling, “Mashi came home to be with us.” That’s the kind of stuff I want my summers to be made of. Not rushing from activity to activity.

Here’s to a beautiful, relaxed, intentional parenting kind of summer!

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